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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Red Dirt Girl

Emmylou Harris

2000

Buy At Rough Trade
Red Dirt Girl
Album Summary

Red Dirt Girl is the nineteenth studio album by American country artist Emmylou Harris, released on September 12, 2000 by Nonesuch Records. The album was a significant departure for Harris, as eleven of the twelve tracks were written or co-written by her. At the time, she was best known for covering other songwriters' work. Prior to this album, only two of Harris' LPs had more than two of her own compositions (Gliding Bird in 1969, and The Ballad of Sally Rose in 1985). Her next album, Stumble into Grace, was also written by Harris. The album contains "Bang the Drum Slowly", a song Guy Clark helped Harris write as an elegy for her father. The album peaked at number 3 on the Billboard country album charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2001.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.85

Votes

10015
Genres
Country
Folk
Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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View Author
Fri Apr 30 2021
2

Not really a fan of the inclusion of these types of later career albums by established artists on this list. Much rather hear any of her first 12 albums than her 21st album. Much rather hear more vital music from artists establishing themselves from this time period than a "return to form" from a well established artist. Do you see any Frank Sinatra or Little Richard albums from the 70s taking up space on here? No. Because if you did it would take the place of much more vital/relevant music from that time period and it wouldn't make any sense. So why do you see so many of these albums that are a good decade or two after these artist's prime on this list as we get towards more recent music? I can only imagine it is a reflection of the average age of the people making the list. Baby boomers doing what they do best and taking up all the space and resources they can for themselves and consequently stifling the opportunities for younger generations to thrive (probably without fully realizing they are doing so). Not a critique of the album but the list itself.

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Thu Dec 30 2021
5

The entire album has an amazing sound. A blend of folk, country, mixed with contemporary production. It is soothing to listen to from beginning to end, at points feeling like ambience. Her timbre is beautiful, brilliant phrasing, and lovely harmonies via dubbed layers or with the featured vocalists. I really enjoyed it and really respect her ability to evolve her sound so late in her career.

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Fri Apr 30 2021
3

I don't know much Emmylou Harris, I know she is considered iconic in folk circles. I like her voice, definitely heard it on other collaborations. A lot of these tracks are just sort of "there" for me though, nothing that really jumps out to me. Very chill, not bad.

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Wed Jun 09 2021
3

Have always steered away from country music but was willing to give this a fair listen, being familiar with Emmylou Harris... And I'm thankful I did, this is a great album. Calling it Country almost shortchanges it; I would also label it folk, Americana, Heartland. Although Emmylou is clearly the focus, it was really the music here that was the surprise. Highlight is "I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now" 7/10

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Wed Mar 16 2022
5

You can tell by the company Emmylou keeps how special of an artist she is. Duets with The Boss and Patty Griffin and Kate McGarrigle on the accordion. The Pearl is such an epic way to start this album that I was thinking it could end the album as well. She can do rock and folk equally well. Loved listening to this.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
3

3 Stars isn't a bad thing at all- this is a good album, one I would listen to again sometime, but I don't know if it's her absolute best work. That said though, I love her sound. Her voice is so clear and pretty.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
3

“Red Dirt Girl” by Emmylou Harris (2000) I’m familiar with Harris’ work as a background vocalist (for Neil Young, Bob Dylan, etc.) and her early hits, but I’ve never heard this album. Emmylou Harris was 53 years old when she recorded this album, and she exudes both youthfulness and maturity in her songwriting and performance. Harris has one of the most recognizable background voices in music of the 70s, with her easy timbre and flawless pitch control. In this solo production of her own composition, she rises to the occasion. She has exceptional strength in her lower range, with good control in her very occasional forays into the highest reaches of her range. It is very plain to hear on this album why she was a favorite for backup and duet work with male artists like Dylan and Young, whose vocal skills were both limited and idiosyncratic. She could make a frog sound sweet. As a songwriter, her compositions on this album are characterized by unsurprising yet moving melodies in major keys, with typical country/folk harmonies. This recording is innovative for Harris, primarily because of its experimental percussion and electronic soundscapes. Very well produced and recorded. The lyrics are serious, reflective, and powerfully feminine, with standard country meter and rhyme. I really liked listening to this. 3/5

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Thu May 13 2021
5

i've been waiting for this one to come around...had it on fairly heavy rotation back around '03 or so, then hadn't given it much thought. it's just as good now as it was then - like emmylou herself, this album doesn't seem to age. it's not that it ages well, it's that it just doesn't get any older with time. love it.

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Thu Oct 14 2021
5

Not normally a huge Country fan but I make an exception for Emmylou Harris

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

I wasn't sure how much I would love this album at first, but by the end my eyes were glistening and I wanted to go back and start over. Knowing of Emmylou Harris forever, but not being that familiar with her work, I didn't realize this was the first album she recorded with mostly songs she wrote or co-wrote. I love these songs. It was, however, "Red Dirt Girl" that really first caught my attention and grabbed my heart. Then "My Baby Needs a Shepherd" came on and "What are you doing to me?!?" Then "Bang the Drum Slowly" came on and "Oh no! *sob* I can't take it!" Going back and listening to everything again, I just thought it was a beautiful album. Beautiful music, beautiful voice, beautiful songs.

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Wed Nov 24 2021
5

If there’s a holier summary of pre-lame country music, this must take the cake. A very easy voice to listen to

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Wed Apr 20 2022
5

At the time of its release, I listened to Red Dirt Girl and liked it, but would for years reach for Wrecking Ball when I wanted to listen to Emmylou Harris. Subsequently, I spent time with the album and truly appreciated it for the tremendous statement it. Frequently a quiet statement, and a representative of what a strong songwriter she had become.

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Wed Jun 08 2022
5

Really great as always from Emmylou.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
5

If her mid-career stuff is this good, then I really need to check out her earlier stuff…and everything else.

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Wed Dec 21 2022
5

Just beautiful. I think it crossed over into a weird space where the country folks maybe didn't take to it like her traditional stuff, and other folks didn't give it a chance, but its truly amazing to immerse yourself in.

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

Good songs, very good voice. A relaxing album to listen to. I liked it.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Pleasant folk/country/americana. Not my typical style, but very beautiful.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Surely the Mother of US country music, a fantastic voice and some stand out tracks (particularly Red Dirt Girl) that both move and entertain you.

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Thu Jul 29 2021
4

Really glad I read the wiki on this one b/c I realized I didn't know a lot about Harris. A lot of artists I like have been influenced by her but this was the first time I listened to her. Very much one of those artist you expect to be a singer song writer but interesting that this was her first time actually writing her own songs.

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Fri Apr 14 2023
4

By the end I started to wonder if I should rate this slightly lower, as it started to drag for me, but I think overall I really appreciate what she was doing with this album.

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Fri Apr 23 2021
3

Erster Eindruck: Escort Service Cover Art und entsprechend betulicher Heart Rock für den Cayenne fahrenden late Springsteen Hörer, der ich nie sein werde. Aber dann umschmeichelt mich diese satt-warme Textur, ein konstant gutes Songwriting und so gibt die Soccer Mom in mir Erdig-ehrliche 3.3

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Fri Dec 31 2021
3

I guess they chose this album because Emmy Lou wrote all the songs for the first time. The song-writing is good, I especially liked the opener and the title track and the rest are pretty solid. For someone in her fifties she still had a beautiful voice. Musically It’s more folky than her earlier albums. I would have liked a bit more twang and a little less production.

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Wed Jun 29 2022
3

I didn't really enjoy this album. But, considering that I was expecting to hate this album, that's actually a pretty good outcome. Nobody who grows up in Alabama escapes "Red Dirt Girl" any more than they escape "Sweet Home Alabama". It's part of the landscape. That carries with it a passing familiarity with Emmylou Harris which means that I came into this album with some preconceived expectations. I'm happy to report that I was surprised by how much I didn't hate this album. It still wasn't super enjoyable, mind you. It's slow and boring and all the songs sound so very similar. Emmylou has a few vocal tricks up her sleeve and she just keeps repeating them over and over throughout the whole album. BUT. The music was solid (if sometimes painfully inoffensive) and the lyrics were interesting more often than not. I'd go so far as to say that each track, taken on its own, is solid and maybe even enjoyable. But, all together in an album, they smear into a mediocre mash of sameness. There's nothing super wrong with the album as a whole other than it just being kind of boring.

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Wed Jan 11 2023
3

A nice album. I lost my focus about ten minutes in, so it became mostly background noise, but what I heard was pleasant.

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Wed Jan 11 2023
3

Notes - Country americana album - Notable for her writing her own songs, instead of her usual covers - Her songs are really good at using space, letting things breathe - The production is a little…. Questionable - There’s some early 2000s choices that I don’t think have aged super well - Was really hoping to enjoy this more but I didn’t find it super compelling Fav - Boy from tupelo - Like the piano playing and lyrics Least fav - I don’t wanna talk about it now - Has the dated effects I talked about 3/5 - enjoyable but a bit one-note

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Wed Feb 08 2023
3

It's pretty wild that an artist in her 50s decides, on her 19th album, that she wants to start recording her own music rather than doing covers as she had for her entire career. I liked this album. Country is not particularly my genre, but she also does an idiosyncratic version of country that I find more interesting to listen to than most country music. It's not something that I see myself coming back to, but it's good overall 3/5

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Fri Apr 07 2023
3

I liked the chill vibes, and her vocals are pretty pleasant. Although the album does get a bit bland, it's still a positive experience.

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Thu Mar 11 2021
2

It was nice, I enjoyed it kinda, she has a great voice. But pretty much every track becomes indistinguishable from each other and found myself impatient for it to finish in the end

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Fri Apr 16 2021
2

I love Emmylou, but this early noughties "country goes modern" shtick is particularly cloying. The whole thing feels just a bit too floaty and forgettable.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
2

Pleasant. But if I never heard it again, or never had heard it, I don't think my life would be any the poorer.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
2

Beautiful voice, some really strong tracks. But realistically won’t revisit

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Fri Mar 17 2023
2

Pleasant enough but slightly aimless.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
1

God it’s all so bloody dull. Clicked on wiki while enduring this - her 19th album and the first she wrote - stick to singing. Also under the Legacy section “Featured in the 1001 albums book” That says it all

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

Country tranquilo. Preciosa voz.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
5

So good listened twice back to back.

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Mon Jun 26 2023
5

Very good! And with a feature from Dave Matthews!

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Wed Aug 09 2023
5

Beautiful voice, really enjoyed the soothing nature of this. The last track (Boy from Tupelo) especially

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Tue Sep 05 2023
5

I cringed at every word contained within both the album title and artist name expecting to be assaulted by more country music but I was pleasantly surprised, not a banjo in sight. Today was a good day

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

Country tranquilo. Preciosa voz.

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Sun Nov 12 2023
5

4.5/5 - this was really nice, very positive surprise for me

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Wed Dec 20 2023
5

I've heard Emmylou Harris's name before, but I was unfamiliar with her work as a musician before starting this project (I did review Trio a few weeks ago, and in the summer, I randomly checked out Gram Parsons' Grievous Angel, and read about how Gram's widow basically tried to remove as many traces of Emmylou from the album as possible. Gretchen seems lovely). Based on the reviews, I didn't expect to like this album, but I was really surprised by it, because it turned out to be an all-around joy to listen to. Emmylou's singing was incredible, and I loved the unique country-folk sound to the album. The music was fantastic, especially the piano and guitar playing. None of the songs sounded too alike, but the album still felt very cohesive. The lyrics were great too, and I enjoyed that some of the song meanings were very straightforward, while others were very much left open to interpretation. On those merits alone, I can't deny this album a five star rating. When it comes to the cultural importance of this album, and why it's on this list, I think it's a great representation of a larger trend that we've seen this century, where older artists continue to write and record new music, often to positive reviews from critics; Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball and Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker come to mind when I think about this trend. Some older artists seem to still draw on their old hits, and many a joke has been made about washed-up bands playing county fairs and single day festivals sponsored by FM classic rock stations. But some artists buck that trend, and continue to hone their creative skills. I think this album is a prime example of that, and deserves a spot on this list.

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

Excellent - glad I found this one through the "generator"!

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Wed Jan 17 2024
5

Beautiful and understated and she sings like my girlfriend.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

Happy to find out this one has mostly songs she wrote, as I really liked the songwriting. Never been sure if I like country, but I'm becoming a dad, my tastes are morphing, and I found myself getting a bit choked up at SEVERAL points. Not every song, but the gorgeous voice and tone still shines through. Have to let my gut speak on this one.

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Tue Jan 30 2024
5

So great. The song "Tragedy" stopped me in my tracks, and I played it three times, then listened to the whole album again.

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Thu Feb 15 2024
5

I always appreciated Emmy Lou's song writing talent, but I've never heard this album, her first foray into writing her own songs. This was a real treat.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

It’s a super strong 4 that I’m gonna round up to a 5, just for my tastes. There are some points early in the album where the production is lacking just that one extra bit for my tastes, but when this album clicks and puts it all together, it’s some of the best country/Americana stuff I’ve heard in a long time. The consequences of “bro country” coming into the scene in the late 90s and early 2000s need to be studied someday, because this is a really good album to me, and I need more stuff like this. Red Dirt Girl? That’s the type of country music I need, not bullshit about trying “that” in a small town, whatever “that” is. The album is just a little too long for me. Could’ve cut it down to like, 8 or 9 tracks, but there’s really not a bad one here. I enjoyed everything on this album; I genuinely think it hits 12 for 12 for me, and that’s why I’m going with a 5 regardless of its slower moments or its perceived flaws. It’s good music, and that’s what matters.

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Fri Mar 22 2024
5

Favourite songs: My Baby Needs a Shepherd, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Pearl, Michelangelo, I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now, Tragedy, Boy From Tupelo, Red Dirt Girl, One Big Love Least favourite songs: Hour of Gold 5/5

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Fri Mar 22 2024
5

Country tranquilo. Preciosa voz.

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Wed Apr 10 2024
5

One of my all-time favorite albums.

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Fri Apr 23 2021
4

Country music became a huge part of my music tastes over the last 10 years and Emmylou is among my faves. This album is on regular repeat in my house.

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Thu May 27 2021
4

Easy listening country, with a couple of stand out tracks.

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Fri Aug 06 2021
4

Country pop melódico. Me ha gustado.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
4

Emmylou is a deserved legend. However, this record chooses to show off her band primarily. They effectively evoke the country tradition in more or less modern colors: It's a good direction for the genre, if not pack-leading. There's no loss in the move away from covers. The tracklist doesn't blur together, but there aren't any sharp turns. Just occasional journeys into especially beautiful sonic space, working on the soul. That's certainly a cheesy line, as the project comes in a pretty slick package.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

I haven’t heard of this album before. The opening song was a real surprise. This is a more updated sound than I expected. It didn't feel purely country to me although there were strong country undertones. "Michelangelo", "I Don't Want To Talk About It Now", "Red Dirt Girl", "J'ai fait tout", "One Big Love", "My Antonia" and "Boy from Tupelo" were some of the highlights on my first listen, but going back I could probably add the rest of the songs to this list. This is a solid album! I read that this was the first time Emmylou Harris wrote her own songs (all but one) for an album. It definitely worked for her. The songs are very well crafted. This is a gentle and very strong album from a true legend. I can't think of anything not to like about it.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

This one took me a few listens before I could really decide about it. I was excited to listen --- I'm not very familiar with Emmylou Harris but feel like I should be. The first time through, the songs just weren't taking hold. I thought they were pleasant and pretty but none of them felt like mine. I'm almost done listening for a third time and it's grown on me quite a bit. Her voice is great, there are some interesting guests singing harmony, the instrumentation is varied and fun, her songs tell a story. I'm most sold on One Big Love, Hour of Gold, and the title track. Those feel like they belong in my library. I also like Boy from Tupelo and My Antonia.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

The songs and Emmylou's voice are pretty. There isn't necessarily much variety in style or tempo from song to song, but they are nice to listen to.

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Sun Nov 07 2021
4

That was a pleasant surprise. For some reason I was expecting forgettable 90's Country Radio country, what I got was some mellow and occasionally soulful folky Americana. Really rather pleasant.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
4

Solid effort from an artist I have no prior knowledge of, will definitely be checking her music out after this listen

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Wed Jan 19 2022
4

A fine selection of songs from one of Americana's most important singers. Favorites: The Pearl, Michelangelo, I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now, Tragedy, Bang the Drum Slowly.

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Thu Feb 03 2022
4

Nice mellow Americana music. Very cool

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Fri Feb 04 2022
4

Classic country bordering on folk. I got a strong feeling of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer.

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Wed Mar 02 2022
4

While some thought is given to the album playlist this week being a bit more on the mellow side of things, "Red Dirt Girl" is still a welcome addition to that mood. Melodious and catchy, this is where rock, eh, country music should always find itself even in the midst of its own evolution. Heartfelt, incorporating country mythos into the modern romantic, this turn of the century album opposes with class the beer-in-one-hand-tractor-wheel-on-the-other bro-country that has plagued the genre with creepy misogyny and with questions as to whether or not Country has a place in music. Released in the year 2000, kicking off a decade where country had a bit of a pop resurgence, paving the way for Lambert, Musgrave, Swift, Underwood to cross over just enough and bring the genre back into being part of the bigger entertainment show. Where this album sets itself apart though is that it keeps the 'old' country in mind, telling a story that a city person could only fantasize about, paying homage to blues, and demonstrating the growth from a more folksy era. "Red Dirt Girl" is a surprising take on country music bringing a rock ensemble to play it.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
4

Beautiful album, with a lush and (mostly) appropriate production. Not sure about the ‘chilled beats’ on Tragedy, but other than that, this was a tasteful ‘repositioning’ of Emmylou and her amazing voice. If I didn’t know otherwise, I’d assume this was a ‘new’ artist, but that voice betrays the years of experience that have gone into these songs. Definitely one to revisit.

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Wed Apr 20 2022
4

I like the blend of Americana, California folk rock and country on this album. Some really nice guitar work by Buddy Miller. Did not know that Bruce and Patti contributed vocals on one of the tracks and Dave Matthews on another. If I could give 3.5 stars I would, since I can’t I’ll round up.

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Wed Jun 15 2022
4

Liked the title track a lot.

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Mon Jul 11 2022
4

I enjoyed this album, but it was mostly just background music. Harris' vocals are just nice and smooth and this was a perfect chill out and vibe album. 3.5/5

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Sun Aug 21 2022
4

I like this artist, but I'm not country fan.

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

I wasn't too familiar with her work, but had heard her name. I was pleasantly surprised by this album. I really really liked it, so much so that I want to explore her other work. Do I think it's the best album of all time, certainly not. It's no Sgt. Pepper, but it's a solid solid album that I really wanted to give a 5, but there's just not enough variety in the album for me that hurts it's relisted-ability, but her voice was entrancing and I hung on every word. Solid work and glad she's on this list. 4.5/5.

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Fri Sep 09 2022
4

Way better than I was expecting. Production clearly influenced by Alanis Morissette, and all the better for it.

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Mon Sep 12 2022
4

Decent album. I like this kind of warm, authentic sound, but it is not special or overwhelming enough for a five star rating.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
4

Emotional and lush Sound of Emmylou’s voice is memorizing

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Thu Nov 03 2022
4

thought this was going to be more country than it was

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Fri Dec 02 2022
4

Great late career record with beautiful production I would have sworn to be the work of Daniel Lanois. Favorites: 'Michelangelo' and 'Bang the Drum Slowly'

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Wed Dec 07 2022
4

fantastiskt! nu förstår jag henne

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Thu Dec 15 2022
4

Really chill and pleasant, but nothing world-changing for me.

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Mon Jan 09 2023
4

A pleasent listen, I enjoyed the track with the breakbeat on but nothing too special to keep me coming back. One to remember when you want a chill afternoon.

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Fri Feb 24 2023
4

This is not really my type of music but I have to say, this was really good! I enjoyed it a lot.

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Sun Mar 26 2023
4

Lovely and thoughtful, but a coin flip whether this or Wrecking Ball is better. A bit heavy-handed on the production atmospherics -- the Lanois successor twiddling the knobs trying to out-Lanois Lanois apparently. Emmylou don't need all that. And while it's nice these are all her songs, the lyrics leave a good bit to be desired (e.g., "monkey/funky" rhyme in "One Big Love"). Dave Matthews add nothing. As befits the subject matter "Boy from Tupelo" is just about the best song – with a bonus from the shout out to Rickie Lee Jones, who easily merits inclusion in this book (for either the eponymous debut or Flying Cowboys [one's personal fave]), even if it cost Emmylou one of her three slots.

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Fri Apr 07 2023
4

If this was what country was like I’d listen to country

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Thu Apr 20 2023
4

Beautiful and haunting. Very happy to see some of her solo work make it onto the list. Best track: Bang the Drum Slowly

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Sun May 07 2023
4

I remember owning this album soon after it was released. It, to me at least, seemed to be part of a wave of Americana/Roots Music popularity that was sparked by the soundtrack of the 2000 film 'O, Brother Where Art Thou?', on which Emmylou Harris is one of the featured artists. It's an excellent album and Ms. Harris is superbly talented. I highly recommend the follow-up documentary, 'Down From The Mountain', which shows a performance of the music from the film and more, and in which we learn that Ms. Harris is an avid baseball fan. :)

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Thu May 11 2023
4

A charming and engaging album, Emmylou Harris has an enchanting voice and these Americana tales are a cut above the rest.

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Fri May 12 2023
4

Great songwriting, great voice, great album

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Sat May 13 2023
4

I remember when this album came out and I started hearing about it. I was like, Emmylou Harris? Isn't that the country singer? I don't like country! Turned out that I do like country - at least this type of country/folk/Americana music. The songs are great, Emmylou's voice is amazing, and goes perfectly with the classic Daniel Lanois sound. The song Red Dirt Girl alone is an all-time classic. It's one of those songs that's like watching a movie. It tells a story and you can picture it all. That song just destroys me. Yes, she tried hard to love him But it never did take Just another way for the heart to break So she learned to bend One thing they don't tell you about the blues When you got 'em You keep on fallin' 'cause there ain't no bottom There ain't no end at least not for Lillian Great album by a great lady. 4 stars.

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Mon May 22 2023
4

I like this quite a bit, great original songs as opposed to covers which apparently is Harris's usual M.O.. There's nothing wrong with covers especially when the performer is a great interpreter like Harris or her friend Linda Ronstadt. It does make me wonder why though. Listening to the production I would've guessed Daniel Lanois had a hand in this, it reminded me of Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy. Turns out it was actually produced by Malcolm Burns who worked with Lanois over the years including on Oh Mercy. I must be some kind of genius. Anyway this is a gem featuring such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Kate McGarrigle, Patty Griffin, Dave Matthews, and Luscious Jackson's Jill Cuniff.

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